Headlight Bulb Upgrade: Options? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 27 Old 04-23-2019, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Headlight Bulb Upgrade: Options?

I'm curious what options have been tested for headlight replacement on the gen 2s… Reading around online, this is what I gather:

Stock lights are Halogens. You can upgrade these by buying better bulbs. Cost is minimal, benefit is OK, ease of installation is great.

You can upgrad to HIDs. The drawback here is that they require balasts and a bunch of extra wiring and stuff, which you have to mount in your fairing. Cost is expensive, benefit is great, ease of installation is poor.

You can upgrade to LEDs. These are a lot better than HIDs because they don't require an external balast, but they do feature a fan assembly hanging off the back that would push the stock connector back away from the light housing, breaking the rubber seal it is supposed to create when seated. Some seem to require reverse polarity installation (?). Cost is medium, benefit is the best, ease of installation is medium.

Can anyone else provide some insight on this topic? I'm especially curious to hear about specific experience with specific products, good or bad.

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post #2 of 27 Old 04-23-2019, 07:30 PM
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Parts of the following post will be in dick mode. I give fair warning as some of the following have offended people greatly, especially after they have bought stuff.

The 'best' H7 headlamp, right now, is probably the


. Things change, but this one seems to be the 'best'. Used to be the Osram Rallye 65 was best, but they discontinued it.

A word about 'best': there is no free lunch. Brighter bulbs mean a shorter life. As a rule of thumb, the intensity of a halogen bulb changes as the power of 3.4 to the voltage. The life of the bulb changes as the -13 power of the voltage. Put simply, underdrive the bulb and it will be slightly dimmer and last a long time. Overdrive it and it will be slightly brighter and very short-lived. The design voltage for a halogen bulb is 12.8 volts. The way that they make high-performance bulbs is by building a filament that should be driven at 12ish volts and driving it with 12.8v. It is brighter, but the life is shorter. The difference can be hundreds of hours.

[dick]
The reflector in the headlight is a parabolic shape. There is a very precise focal point in the reflector. The headlight works as designed only when a light source that is of the exact size, shape, and position as that found in an H7 headlamp. That is impossible to do with an LED light source. If anyone tells you differently you will know when they are lying; their lips will move. It's physics. Pure and simple. Physics.

The light output may be greater, but that light is not going where it is supposed to and will not conform to the requirements set forth in FMVSS 108. What there will be is either an annoying amount of glare to oncoming traffic or the light pattern as seen by the rider will be poor. If an LED was made that had a poor pattern for the rider it wouldn't sell. The manufacturer's do what they can to make a decent pattern for the rider but, due to that nasty physics shit, there is resulting glare to oncoming.

This same thing goes for HID retrofits.

This is why, if you want an LED headlight, you buy JE Speaker, Hella, Rigid, etc. and get a headlamp that is designed to work with its light source and you pay good money for it.

Some people get quite emotional about this. I tried to explain the above to a Canadian, who lives in a town the name of which was taken by a '70s pop band, and he became red-faced angry with vein-popping and spittle-flying reactions. I'm sorry, it's physics.
[/dick]

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“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 04-23-2019 at 07:33 PM.
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post #3 of 27 Old 04-23-2019, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Tom you're the man. Thanks for the info on why to avoid the snazz. Full disclosure, I wasn't gonna put anything on the bike that required me to find a location for a weird light dongle or messed up the weather sealing (or required me to cut into stock parts) on the headlight. I'm not unsatisfied with the headlight, but I would like it to be as good as possible with a good output:longevity ratio. Thanks for the Phillips tip. I saw elsewhere a suggestion to go with these two from Sylvania. I'm assuming the Philips is better, correct?

longer-lasting bulb for low beam:



brighter, shorter-lifespan bulb for high beam:



Here's the (old) post where I found this advice:
https://www.klrforum.com/2008-klr650...-h7-bulbs.html

What I say above notwithstanding, I am interested in getting some aux lights, about which I'm asking on another post currently. These would be great but the task here is different, the goal being to flood everything in front of me. I'd rather separate these tasks than try to get both out of a single bulb, which is what it sounds like the LED tries to do.

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post #4 of 27 Old 04-23-2019, 08:45 PM
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I HATE automobile drivers who always insist on driving with their FOG Lights ON. On clear nights, I flash most of them! Rarely any night time fog in WY!

If one Brightens the roadway near the vehicle our pupils contract. This actually DIMS our vision out at the edge of the light pattern while on Low beam and on intermittent High beam usage.

We need to see the dangerous item at the far edge of pattern and let our judgement & peripheral vision deal with it as it gets closer.

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post #5 of 27 Old 04-24-2019, 01:02 AM
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Osram and Sylvania are the same company and some of their products have the same names. They aren't the same, though, as Sylvania is the second tier product and leans toward the Kewl Krowd.

The Silverstar is held in high regard when realistically tested. The Silverstar produces less light than many others because its color temperature has been boosted by the use of a blue filter on the bulb envelope. That filter cuts out quite a bit of light in a very usable portion of the coot spectrum. The advertising hyperbole (if memory serves) quotes the filament output, not the lamp output. This 'brighter/whiter' light fools our eyes but doesn't improve our ability to see. Our eyes evolved under a yellow sun and react best, I think, to a color temperature that mimics sunlight.

The Xtravision, eh, mebbe, mebbe not. My preference is for Osram over Sylvania and I use Osram in the BMW because they have the AllSeason. That is a yellow tinted bulb that really works well for my vision needs. For a couple of years I was commuting up to Roseville and the return trip was on Friday nights, so I spent a lot of time running the central valley in the dark. The Osram Allseason woudn u being the lamp that worked best for me. I think our needs change as we age, too, and a warmer light helps me a lot.

Tom [email protected]

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


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post #6 of 27 Old 04-24-2019, 01:06 AM
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Paul makes a good point. Fog lights really don't work all that well for much of anything. I use a pair of Hella FF fog lights in the day time when riding against heavy oncoming traffic. The pattern is low and wide and doesn't produce glare but they create a highly visible light triangle.

Other than as a conspicuity light, I wouldn't pick a fog light use on a motorcycle. Or a car. My Forester came with them. I've never turned them on and am not sure I know how to.

Tom [email protected]

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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post #7 of 27 Old 04-24-2019, 10:22 AM
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Great thread. I've also had some "spirited" conversations about lights......and most people are convinced that the light color equals light output! ....drives me nutz.

there is no free lunch indeed. It's too bad that you don't have the same solution that us Gen1 owners have: a proper replacement LED assy - reflector and all. The JNS light works great, provides far more light than the stocker AND completely alleviates the problems associated with the factory undersized wiring and blowing the fuse when switching between high and low beam.

If I had a Gen2, I'd be getting a good quality incandescent bulb and a separate set of LED driving lights

Dave
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post #8 of 27 Old 04-24-2019, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Schmitz View Post
Osram and Sylvania are the same company and some of their products have the same names. They aren't the same, though, as Sylvania is the second tier product and leans toward the Kewl Krowd.

The Silverstar is held in high regard when realistically tested. The Silverstar produces less light than many others because its color temperature has been boosted by the use of a blue filter on the bulb envelope. That filter cuts out quite a bit of light in a very usable portion of the coot spectrum. The advertising hyperbole (if memory serves) quotes the filament output, not the lamp output. This 'brighter/whiter' light fools our eyes but doesn't improve our ability to see. Our eyes evolved under a yellow sun and react best, I think, to a color temperature that mimics sunlight.

The Xtravision, eh, mebbe, mebbe not. My preference is for Osram over Sylvania and I use Osram in the BMW because they have the AllSeason. That is a yellow tinted bulb that really works well for my vision needs. For a couple of years I was commuting up to Roseville and the return trip was on Friday nights, so I spent a lot of time running the central valley in the dark. The Osram Allseason woudn u being the lamp that worked best for me. I think our needs change as we age, too, and a warmer light helps me a lot.
So if you had to choose, I'm assuming you would recommend the Philips bulb you mentioned over an Osram — is that right? With Osram, I notice Amazon has the NightBreaker, but I have to go to eBay to find the AllSeason (looks like retailers are oriented toward the EU market for this bulb).

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post #9 of 27 Old 04-24-2019, 02:53 PM
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Some folks say that it is a good lamp. I just don't have any experience with it. When I was running a lot of halogen stuff on my truck I liked Narva, but it can be hard to find. When I went looking for a cooler color temperature lamp I ran across the AllSeason and liked it; it's the only Osram I have any familiarity with.

I did use the Philips lamps before converting to HID and found them to be pretty good, better than the stock units.

BTW, I noticed a typo in a post above; here is the correction:

"The Silverstar is not held in high regard when realistically tested."

Apologies for the confusion.

The problem with the rating and ranking of bulbs is that there is some personal preference involved with factors (color temperature), the manufacturers are constantly changing things (+100, 120, +130...), companies merge, spin-off, create new, and a lot of manufacturing has moved to China.

Some evaluation needs to be done by individual users to find what suits their needs and the product they buy today and like may not be the same two years on. Experimenting is not horribly expensive, especially if one stays in the near-sunlight color temperature, doesn't look for extreme brightness/does look for decent life expectancy.

Tom [email protected]

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.

Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 04-24-2019 at 02:59 PM.
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post #10 of 27 Old 04-24-2019, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Schmitz View Post
Some evaluation needs to be done by individual users to find what suits their needs and the product they buy today and like may not be the same two years on. Experimenting is not horribly expensive, especially if one stays in the near-sunlight color temperature, doesn't look for extreme brightness/does look for decent life expectancy.
Does this mean you won't go out and buy the full range of available H7 lamps, install and test them so we don't have to??

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